Pippa Funnell heads all-British top three after Burghley dressage: ‘He was more through his whole body and back’

Pippa Funnell leads after the dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials after an excellent test this afternoon (Friday, 6 September).

Pippa scored 22.8 on Jane and Jonathan Clarke’s MGH Grafton Street, who is contesting his first five-star.

“It’s a personal best for him — he’s always been well marked because he’s pleasing to the eye, but I felt when riding him he wasn’t going as well as the judges were marking him, which is a nice way round, of course,” said Pippa. “Today I felt like he was more through his whole body and back.”

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Pippa heads an all-British top-three, with Oliver Townend sitting second on 2017 Burghley winner Ballaghmor Class with 25.3 and Izzy Taylor third on the rising star Springpower, just 0.3 of a penalty behind.

Oliver said: “He’s a high-class horse and it’s lovely to have a horse of his calibre at these events. He’s becoming more and more established and getting very relaxed in there.”

Oliver said he has only walked the course once so far as he’s been suffering from problems with his back.

“I did something on Tuesday that’s stopped me riding pretty much all week, so that’s been a bit tricky but we’re still here,” he said.

Izzy said she was “very pleased” with her test.

“He’s still green at this level,” she said. “He’s only 10 and Friday afternoon at Badminton went to his head so we had a bit of homework to do. The cameras are close in there and he got a bit tense. There’s still masses more to come.”

US rider Lauren Kieffer took the lead in the first session after lunch on 26.7, despite having to ride in a heavy rain shower with Jacqueline Mars’ Vermiculus. She now sits fourth at the close of this phase.

“I’m thrilled with him. He hates the rain and when it started coming down when I was warming up he was trying to turn his butt to it, so I went in thinking I might just be surviving,” she said. “He didn’t do anything super flamboyant, but he’s got stronger in the past six weeks and he just kept being super consistent.”

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Hannah-Sue Burnett (equal fifth on Harbour Pilot) and Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp (equal seventh on Deniro Z) also hold top-10 places for the US, with Piggy French and Vanir Kamira sitting alongside Hannah-Sue in equal fifth. New Zealand’s Jonelle Price had the same score as Elisabeth to join her in seventh place with Faerie Dianimo.

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Yesterday’s leader Eliza Stoddart (Priorspark Opposition Free) is now equal ninth with last year’s winners, Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy.

Check back for more reports on Burghley throughout the weekend. Full report from Burghley in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine (issue dated 12 September), including exclusive comments from Harry Meade and ground jury president Nick Burton.